UK appeals court rules Iraq abuse probe lacks independence

[JURIST] A UK appeals court on Tuesday ruled [judgment text] that a special commission charged with investigating the alleged abuse of Iraqi civilians in British-controlled detention facilities between March 2003 and December 2008 lacks independence. The Court of Appeals ordered Defence Secretary Liam Fox [official website] to reconsider his refusal to open a single public inquiry into allegations of UK military abuse. The Court of Appeals also found that the existing inquiries into the abuse allegations fail to meet the requirements of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text] which protects against inhumane treatment. This decision reverses a UK High Court decision from December 2010 denying the appeal [JURIST report] of more than 100 Iraqi citizens to open a single public inquiry into allegations of abuse by members of the British Armed Forces. The High Court previously held that the inquiries initiated by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) were sufficient and that further public inquiry would be unnecessary in this case. Lead claimant Ali Zaki Mousa said [press release] that the decision "has restored our confidence in the British people."

The hearings into Fox's refusal to open public inquiries began in November 2010 [JURIST report]. The Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) [law firm website], the group representing the Iraqi civilians, submitted videos to support claims that UK soldiers and interrogators abused Iraqi detainees in British internment facilities. In September 2010, a Ministry of Defence (MOD) [official website] report found that the UK's treatment of detainees complies with domestic and international law [JURIST report]. In July 2010, UK Prime Minister David Cameron [official website] announced that he would create a panel [JURIST report] to investigate claims that British government agents were complicit in the torture of terrorism suspects held overseas. The investigation stems from a civil action, brought by 12 ex-detainees who allege that British agents participated in their abuse while they were held in prisons in Pakistan, Morocco and other countries. The UK will ask them to drop their lawsuits in exchange for possible compensation and a promise that the impending inquiry will fully investigate their claims. In June, the UK government indicated that it will issue a new set of regulations regarding the use of information obtained via torture [JURIST report] as claims of complicity in torture were made against the government in a Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] report [materials] released the same day.

 

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